We had the good fortune of connecting with Drew Schaefering and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Drew, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk is a funny thing. The saying “no risk no reward” seems to ring loud with many of us and while that’s true, it certainly doesn’t mean that the reward will be following. My risk tolerance began to build prior to stepping into my career when I stepped back from a Business Administration Marketing degree to enroll back in school to get my cosmetology license. My train of thought was that I had already given years of my life to college, soccer and a degree, which may no longer serve me how I once thought. I felt I was able to push the envelope and take greater risks to make up for that time. I got into the hair industry as a way of not playing it safe. Turning down corporate and office jobs, I stepped into a career where I would be steering my path and have the freedom to make what I wanted of it. I didn’t really think about the risk at the time when I started the journey, all I thought of was what I wanted to achieve or do.
Moving to New York as a freelance hairstylist and leaving behind a book of clientele just over three years into my career was as risky and hard as it was inevitable for me. I have always had a big appetite for my expectations and achievements. I felt that if I didn’t act on the exciting things which felt too scary or uncomfortable to achieve then I would begin to grow grass around my feet in my comfort zone. Once I experienced the risk and lack of stability in my new way of life, it allowed me to see risk as a potential gain instead of a potential positive. Very few times does reward come without the risk, and without laying it on the table you may never know what could come of it all. I began a long term project that I could jumpstart and grow alongside my career in hair. Cruxe, has been an intense and risky labor of love, passion, stress, pain, and promise. I decided to start Cruxe as a way of building something bigger than myself. I have risked spending time, energy and money into a company rather than myself as an artist at times, in order to achieve a dream I have had since getting into the industry. Wearing multiple hats and spreading out our focus can be equally as detrimental to our growth as is positive. Whether we do or we don’t, we risk either way, it simply depends on which risk we choose to take.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Since I was young, I was always creative, drawing, sketching, painting. I don’t think it was until I found hair that I felt I would be able to make a living and career by being in a creative field. By finding hair, I began to find my creative voice’s first notes and have since been blossoming and refining it constantly. The biggest thing that sets me apart from others is that nobody else has walked in my shoes, experiencing what I have. The work that I do reflects everything in my career up to this point. I create work for personal clients, brands, and for the sake of art, all by connecting the dots my past experiences and mixing them with the present circumstances.
It has been difficult to manage all of the opportunities, paths, and categories of hair that I live in. It seems more reasonable to choose a path, stick with it, and be committed fully to that lane. I have found that’s one of my advantages, doing so many different things. There is the idea that perfection and mastery require complete time and attention. The idea of mastery in one field and devoting everything to that one skillset feels boring and limiting. I’m not here to master one thing. I am here to experience as much of it as possible while curating the imprint i leave behind after I’m finished.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
In New York there are endless options of exciting and fun things to do and spend time on. For me, there are few things that beat the historical and artistic culture of NYC mixed with the energy and vibrancy of the people here. I would explore the art museums, seeing the work from some of the worlds best artists in one place. No itinerary would be complete without visiting culinary landmarks and New York staples from sidewalk pizza to rooftop luxury. My favorite parts about cities, whether in my own or visiting another, are the spots lesser-known and around the corner. The hidden gems that locals know about carrying so much more of a richness to their culture than the big box tourist destinations. As much as the city itself has everything you could want, a short trip upstate or out to Long Island is the perfect balance to compliment the craziness. Visiting a beach, going skydiving, or a few days at an air bnb upstate really highlight how much beauty there is of different kinds around here.
In a world of years past and hopefully near future, it truly is hard to beat a sunny day exploring the various neighborhoods with friends and embracing the nightlife and live music that brings this city to life.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The first and immediate person that deserves a shoutout for where I am today is my father John. After I graduated college I was stuck making a decision between accepting a desk job and pursuing one of my creative passions of hair. I actually had made the decision one morning to accept a job offer in order to “grow up” and move on with my career. In speaking to me, my father encouraged me to look at going back to school, taking advantage of having freedom from a job that would be hard to leave if I were to accept it. Lifting any societal pressures and my own high expectations of “growing up,” I went back into school in my twenties and from day one I knew that I was happy I made that choice and more importantly had the support of my family to do so.
The second individual who was a part of it all since the beginning is my first mentor David Hoffmann. Owning a salon in St. Louis and being a dear family friend prior to me being born, David played a huge role in my attraction to hair and what the industry could offer. I started cutting my own hair in high school and would periodically return to his chair for more tips and ways I could cut it at home between visits with him. After college, he opened his door and showed me his world, sharing the industry through his eyes and guided me to the right cosmetology school before offering me a chair in his salon. A tipping point of my career was about 6 months out of school. While attending an advanced cutting class in New York City with David, I was asked to try out for the artistic team of L’Oreal Professionnel. While I had little technical skill that early, David recognized my natural ability and lack of fear and began to support me however he could. He chose to say yes to whatever I needed to do for myself to grow as a stylist, which often included incurring expenses, taking time out of the salon to travel, and ultimately moving to New York. He is someone I love very dearly and owe so much of my success to.
Along my way, I have found mentorship, love and encouragement of others in numerous forms. I have had the chance to work alongside some of the most supportive artists and educators with L’Oreal Professionnel as I grew into the stylist I would become. I have spent countless hours and days on set, backstage and traveling, working with some of the top hairstylists in fashion on shoots, shows and events. The exposure and experience I have had in my career to date is an unfair advantage that I have, which has far exceeded my expectations from when I started my career. Each personal conversation, life lesson, artistic approach and technique holds as much value as the next.
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